When most people think of factory farming, they imagine giant feedlots in the Midwest that supply fast food restaurants like McDonalds and Burger King. But the reality is that 99% of all animal products come from factory farms, some of which are in our own backyards.
Since FFAC is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, we’re going to spotlight a surprising local epicenter of factory farming – Sonoma County.
According to factoryfarmmap.org, Sonoma County has an “extremely high” density of factory farms. Specifically, Sonoma County is a local hub for dairy, egg, and chicken factory farming.
Sonoma has over 15,000 dairy cows, 1,500,000 egg-laying chickens and 2,800,000 broiler chickens (chickens raised for meat).
Animal Legal Defense Fund recently successfully sued the Sonoma-based Judy’s Eggs for misleading consumers with fraudulent claims on its packaging.
Here you can see the bucolic old-fashioned front of the package, and the misleading claim on the inside of the package: “These hens are raised in wide open spaces in Sonoma Valley, where they are free to “roam, scratch, and play.”
Here is the reality of where Judy’s raises its hens – a factory farm, complete with purple “manure lagoon.”
Judy’s sells under several other brand names as well, further misleading consumers: Uncle Eddie’s, Rock Island, Gold Circle, Whole Foods 365 brand, and Organic Valley all source eggs from Judy’s.
Judy’s eggs are also labeled organic, which technically is supposed to mean that the birds have “outdoor access.” However, their certifying agency gave them a permanent exemption from the outdoor requirement based on the threat of avian flu. This exemption seems a bit odd, given that there are many other egg producers in Petaluma that allow their birds outdoor access, without any avian flu outbreaks.
Judy’s provides the perfect example of how meaningless “free range” “organic” and “cage-free” labeling can be, and that local farms can in fact be factory farms.
In case you’re wondering about the distinction between the different types of labels, check out this great guide from the Humane Society.
Rancho Veal Corporation
Last week the North Bay’s last remaining slaughterhouse was forced by the USDA to recall 8.7 million pounds of meat because they failed to meet federal inspection requirements, after being forced to recall 40,000 pounds of meat in January.
The meat in question was classified as a Class1 Recall, meaning “This is a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.”